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PFT's Week Two picks

[Editor’s note:  Each week, Rosenthal and I will go head to head,
picking the winner of each game.  The guy who does worse each week gets
to be the one to copy and paste together the text the next week.  Last week, we tied.  The NBC Competition Committee decided that I should have to copy and paste it all together again.  And so I’ll take the high road and accept the ruling.  In three days, after everyone applauds me for taking the high road, I’ll bitch about it on the radio.]

[UPDATE:  As it turns out, we didn’t tie.  Rosenthal won.  And I should have kept my damn mouth shut when I realized that he’d counted his victories incorrectly.]

Bills at Packers

Florio’s take:  In Week Two of the 2009 season, the Packers hosted an AFC team, and the AFC team stole a win.  In Win Two of the 2010 season, another AFC team comes to town.  But there’s a big difference between last year’s Bengals and this year’s Bills.  Even with Packers running back Ryan Grant done for the year, Green Bay has too much talent — and the Bills don’t have nearly enough.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 42, Bills 19.

Rosenthal’s take: This reminds me of the blowout specials Florio used to get to pick last year when we split the workload.  You could try to make a case for the Bills, but you’d be trying too hard.  Buffalo doesn’t have the receiver depth to test Green Bay’s secondary.  The Bills’ three-headed running game was oddly underused last week.  Their screens were predictable.  Holes closed on C.J. Spiller a lot faster than they did at Clemson or in the preseason.  Don’t expect daylight this week. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Packers 27, Bills 10.

Dolphins at Vikings

Florio’s take:  The Vikings’ offense and the Dolphins’ defense cancel each other out.  So this one will come down to the ability of the Minnesota defense to bottle up the Miami offense.  Given that the Bills were able to keep the attack largely in check last week, the Vikings should have no problems shutting them down.

Florio’s pick:  Vikings 24, Dolphins 12.

Rosenthal’s take: Miami’s defense was impressive in Buffalo.  Mike Nolan did a lot of fun things with Karlos Dansby and Cameron Wake; they can get pressure on Brett Favre. Even short a few players, this is an improved linebacker group.  Favre also may not be ready to take advantage of a Dolphins secondary that features Benny Sappy a little too prominently.  There’s an old axiom that you shouldn’t pick a team to cover the spread unless you think they can win. 5.5 points feels like too much.  So let’s just go all the way and take the Dolphins in an upset special.  (I changed this pick at the last minute, which is the kiss of death.)  [Editor’s note:  Hey, Rosey, if you’re gonna pick the upset, just pick the upset and be done with it.]

Rosenthal’s pick: Dolphins 23, Vikings 21.

Chiefs at Browns

Florio’s take:  With former Patriot Scott Pioli running the Chiefs and former Patriot turncoat Eric Mangini coaching the Browns, this one carries a strong undercurrent of hostility.  Then there’s the fact that Browns running back Jerome Harrison shredded the K.C. defense for 286 yards last December.  Look for the new-look Chiefs to bring their new attitude to Ohio, and to send the Browns to a loss in the second of two games that most expected Cleveland to win.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 20, Browns 13.

Rosenthal’s take: Remember all the positive energy in Kansas City on Monday night?  Imagine that, but the complete opposite happening in Cleveland if the Browns fall behind Sunday.  Jake Delhomme’s injury doesn’t hurt the Browns, though.  Seneca Wallace is different, and could force the Browns coaches to get creative with a roster that begs for creativity to make up for a lack of talent.  Eric Mangini can’t afford to lose the Belichick B-team Bowl after last week’s collapse in Tampa.  Romeo Crennel knows just how to lose in Cleveland.

Rosenthal’s pick: Browns 17, Chiefs 14.

Bears at Cowboys

Florio’s take:  The Bears lucked into a win at home and the Cowboys squandered a victory of their own on the road.  This week, the Cowboys head back to Dallas, 25 years after the Bears authored a 44-0 beatdown of the ‘Boys.  The Bears haven’t won in Big D since the year after that game — and their streak of futility will continue.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 24, Bears 10.

Rosenthal’s take: No clue what to make of the Bears after last week.   Jay Cutler moved the ball very well, Matt Forte is revived, and the defense stuffed Detroit all day.  Yet they still needed a lucky call to save them from an opening loss at home.  The Cowboys are easier to read.  Their offensive line has problems and they know it.  The defense is great.  Will the return of two injured, older starting lineman be enough to turn things around?  It’s enough this week.

Rosenthal’s pick: Cowboys 24, Bears 20.

Cardinals at Falcons

Florio’s take:  The Cards barely beat a still-bad Rams team last week, and the Falcons gave fits to the Steelers on their home field.  Atlanta realizes that the window will close quickly if they can’t keep pace with the Saints.  Besides, Falcons are far more menacing birds.

Florio’s pick:  Falcons 28, Cardinals 20.

Rosenthal’s take: Arizona fans complaining about style points last week need to get a grip.  Kurt Warner has left the building.  This is a different Cardinals team, and they are going to have to win creatively while Derek Anderson figures things out. The guy led two impressive fourth-quarter drives last week and that will do for now.  Matt Ryan, on the other hand, has struggled to move the ball since the preseason.  I think Atlanta’s improved defense carries the day here.  Both these teams deserve to be 1-1. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Falcons 19, Cardinals 14. 

Buccaneers at Panthers

Florio’s take:  Since 2003, the Panthers have handled the Bucs on 11 of 14 occasions.  Though Tampa pulled off a minor surprise on Sunday against the Browns, the Panthers can be expected to take care of business on their own turf.  If they can’t, Carolina could be 0-5 at the bye.

Florio’s pick:  Panthers 24, Buccaneers 14.

Rosenthal’s take: The Bucs have a golden opportunity to go 2-0, even if Panthers starting quarterback Matt Moore plays as expected despite a concussion last week.  Raheem Morris has the Bucs defense looking improved, like they did at the end of last year.  These two similar teams fly well below the NFL radar and got against current league norms.  They want to win with running, defense, and not screwing things up too badly passing the ball.  John Fox has more practice.  And better running backs. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Panthers 20, Bucs 13.

Eagles at Lions

Florio’s take:  With Mike Vick making his first start since 2006, the question becomes whether he can play like he did against the Packers, who weren’t prepared to face him, when facing a Lions team that knows Vick will be the guy.  Lions coach Jim Schwartz never has had to defend Vick; when Schwartz served as defensive coordinator for the Titans, Schwartz’s team was the last one to play the Falcons before Vick returned from a broken leg.  Look for Schwartz to try to keep Vick in the pocket in the hopes that he’ll be forced to throw — and that he’ll force a few mistakes.  And then Kevin Kolb will get “healthy” quickly.

Florio’s pick:  Lions 20, Eagles 13.

Rosenthal’s take: The battle of the tortured fan bases.  The rest of the world learned about what it meant to be a Lions fan this week.  Week One, full of hope, they lost their young franchise quarterback and a game in the most painful way possible.  The Lions have a vertical passing attack with the weakest-armed quarterback in the league in Shaun Hill.  Eagles fans have it pretty good, but they like drama.  They talked up Kevin Kolb all offseason, then gave up on him after 30 minutes.  It’s hard to blame them after the way Michael Vick played last week.  Vick will put it to the Lions just to make this whole situation more ridiculous.

Rosenthal’s pick: Eagles 27, Lions 16.

Ravens at Bengals

Florio’s take:  The Bengals somehow swept the Ravens last year.  It won’t be happening again in 2010.  Baltimore looks as good as they ever have looked, and the Bengals looked nothing like they looked a year ago.  Look for Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis to continue to drop the hammer on anyone who looks in his direction.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 23, Bengals 9.

Rosenthal’s take: The Bengals defense said they were confused early against the Patriots.  So were guys like Tedy Bruschi that picked Cincinnati to go to the Super Bowl.  At least the Bengals passing attack showed signs of life after the early disaster.  It may have been garbage time, but Carson Palmer couldn’t put up big stats any time last year.  Unlike the Jets, Cincinnati has the weapons to take advantage of Baltimore’s secondary.

Rosenthal’s pick: Bengals 27, Ravens 23.

Steelers at Titans

Florio’s take:  Last year, these two teams kicked off a season that many assumed would end in a playoff rematch.  Neither qualified for the postseason.  This year, both look like they’re on their way to another trip to January.  It all comes down to the Steelers defense against the Titans offense, and the Steelers defense is simply too tough.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 13, Titans 9.

Rosenthal’s take: The Titans were my pick to win the AFC South in the PFT Season Preview, so I’m basically going to take them at home unless they are facing the ’85 Bears.  The Steelers defense isn’t at that level, but it could wind up being the best in 2010.  Pittsburgh can neutralize Chris Johnson — they held him to 57 yards in last year’s opener.  So it will come down Vince Young versus Dennis Dixon and Young should be up for the challenge. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Titans 14, Steelers 10.

Seahawks at Broncos

Florio’s take:  Former Broncos quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, who was essentially run off when Josh McDaniels became the head coach, returns to town with a team that unexpectedly won in Week One by 25 points.  But it’s one thing to put a pasting on the 49ers at home in the season opener, it’s quite another to do it in Denver.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 24, Seahawks 17.

Rosenthal’s take: These teams that are a total mystery, especially the Seahawks.  Can Seattle play so inspired without the 12th man?  What is this team good at precisely?  It looks like Pete Carroll is going to make this defense better and more interesting.  The offense has work to do.  In Denver, I know what I’m getting from Kyle Orton and his band of merry secondary receivers.  The Broncos can beat suspect NFC West teams at home.

Rosenthal’s pick: Broncos 28, Seahawks 21.

Rams at Raiders

Florio’s take:  The Rams looked better than expected in Week One; the Raiders looked far worse.  But Oakland is at home and the Rams are still learning how to win.  Though neither team will be embarrassed, look for the Raiders to take care of business in the Black Hole.

Florio’s pick: Raiders 17, Rams 10.

Rosenthal’s take: The optimism stops here for one of these teams. The Raiders wouldn’t be able to sell progress after a blowout loss on the road and a home loss to the Rams.  Sam Bradford has given the Rams hope for the future, but the present looks awfully bleak if they go 0-2 with a soft opening schedule.  Two Raiders, including Jason Campbell, alluded to being overconfident heading into the Titans game.  You know, because of their draft grades.  Losing 11 or more games for seven years hasn’t humbled this franchise.  Maybe losing to the Rams will. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Rams 21, Raiders 17.

Texans at Redskins

Florio’s take:  The reunion of the Shanahans and Gary Kubiak adds intrigue to a game that suddenly has become one of the best of the weekend give the teams’ performances in Week One.  We’ll quickly find out whether Houston tailback Arian Foster rolled up all those yards because he played against a bad run defense or because the Texans have become the ultimate “pick your poison” pass/run attack.  And we’ll find out whether the Redskins’ offense can score a touchdown or two without having it handed to them.

Florio’s pick:  Texans 27, Redskins 24.

Rosenthal’s take: Matt Schaub and Gary Kubiak are road favorites coming off a huge win. This is exactly the game they usually trip over, which worries me. Also worrisome:  Every aspect of the Redskins offense except their tackle play.  (How odd is that?)  Washington just doesn’t have enough firepower to hang with Houston, who should give Arian Foster a break and only rush him 25 times this week. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Texans 24, Redskins 17.

Patriots at Jets

Florio’s take:  During an offseason of incessant Jets chirping, the Patriots have remained largely silent.  Apart from Tom Brady’s acknowledgement that he hates the Jets, the Pats have avoided the trash talk.  Instead, the Patriots have saved it for the field, and the Jets may have a hard time saving themselves as the Pats make the only kind of statement that truly matters in football.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 35, Jets 13.

Rosenthal’s take: What goes up in the NFL usually comes down. And vice versa.  An overconfident team loses one week, gets ripped, and plays hungry the next time out.  Last year, Rex Ryan called the Jets’ Week Two game against the Patriots the team’s Super Bowl.  This one is far more important.  The Jets know they can’t go 0-2 at home to start the year. The Jets defense still looks great. The offense can find a way on the ground.  Don’t crown the Patriots yet; this will be a season-long battle.



Rosenthal’s pick: Jets 20, Patriots 16.

Jaguars at Chargers

Florio’s take:  Most expected one of these teams to be 1-0 and the other to be 0-1; few expected that the Jaguars would be undefeated and that the Chargers would be winless.  Though it may feel like a home game for the Jaguars since the stadium will be partially empty (rim shot!), the Chargers have the horses to get back to 1-1 against a Jaguars team that overachieved against the Broncos.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 30, Jaguars 21.

Rosenthal’s take: The Chargers talked all offseason about avoiding yet another slow start to the year, and then slogged through a loss in the Kansas City rain.  Weather should be more conducive to vertical passing in San Diego this week. I don’t trust either secondary or either pass rush, even if Aaron Kampman looks like a fine pickup.  I’ll take Philip Rivers in a shootout over David Garrard every time.

Rosenthal’s pick: Chargers 34, Jaguars 26.
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Giants at Colts

Florio’s take:  Peyton Manning has started 0-1 only three times in his 13-year career.  Only once, as a rookie in 1998, has Peyton Manning begun a season at 0-2.  This time around, Peyton takes an 0-1 mark into his second career game against his kid brother.  And more importantly than not going 0-2 to Peyton will be avoiding losing to Eli.  Sometimes, it really is that simple.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 31, Giants 19.

Rosenthal’s take: Both brothers have grown up a lot since the last Manning Bowl.  Peyton won a Super Bowl and did the United Way spot on Saturday Night Live.  Eli won a Super Bowl, got significantly better after the title, and adjusted his Southern fraternity mop top.  That makes this a fair fight, especially if the Giants pass rush has truly reawakened.  Fair, but not equal.  Peyton is still the one with MVPs and Peyton doesn’t start the year 0-2.

Rosenthal’s pick: Colts 34, Giants 30.

Saints at 49ers

Florio’s take:  Rarely if ever has a team with high expectations imploded as quickly as the 49ers.  They open their home schedule with a visit from the Saints, who will have had the longest possible non-bye-week time to prepare for the game, playing on a Thursday and next on the following Monday, 11 days later.  After the game, Niners coach Mike Singletary will be thanking Sean Payton in the same way Singletary thanked Pete Carroll.  

Florio’s pick:  Saints 30, 49ers 13.

Rosenthal’s take: Weirdly dangerous game for the Saints against an ornery 49ers team.  New Orleans fans don’t like that I questioned their run defense this week, but one game doesn’t erase all of last season and a shaky linebacker group.  Luckily, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams doesn’t have to get too creative to stop Alex Smith and the 49ers passing attack.  Load up the box, and dare Smith to beat you.  The Saints are in Payton/Brees version 5.0.  The essentially can do anything they choose with a veteran group of receivers.  The 49ers can’t get the play calls in on time.

Rosenthal’s pick: Saints 27, 49ers 21.

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Roger Goodell sure likes the way Laremy Tunsil spiced up his TV show

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28:  (L-R) Laremy Tunsil of Ole Miss holds up a jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked #13 overall by the Miami Dolphins during the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on April 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) Getty Images

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will not tolerate his employees publicly revealing the already publicly revealed names on his secret card, and possibly spoiling his super-important television show.

But if you want to be humiliated and possibly extorted, accused of something illegal which subjects you to possible future sanctions, and lose millions of dollars in the process, then just know that he is totally OK with that because it works out better for him that way.

The world’s highest-paid pinata — who exists to shield his bosses from bad and uncomfortable news in exchange for north of $30 million a year — said during an interview with an outlet which helps pay that freight that Tunsil’s slide last night made for good television.

I think it’s all part of what makes the draft so exciting,” Goodell said during an interview with ESPN’s “Mike & Mike” when asked about Tunsil’s fall. “Clubs make decisions. Sometimes they take risks. Sometimes they do the right things. Sometimes they don’t, and we’ll see.

“Hopefully he is going to turn out to be a great young player.”

Gosh, thanks Roger, I’m sure Tunsil is relieved that you have such high hopes for him, after he was opened up to ridicule and persecution if not prosecution last night.

In case you missed it, about 15 minutes before the draft started, a video of Tunsil smoking out of a gas mask bong was put on his Twitter account by someone presumably not him. Then came Instagram messages from his account which suggest he was getting paid under the table at Ole Miss. Maybe it came from his step-father who’s suing him for assault and maybe it didn’t, but either way, the kid was hauled out there for public shaming while his draft stock plummeted on live television.

The 13th pick will eventually sign a deal worth around $12.5 million. The third pick will make about $25.9 million. Even if you assume Tunsil might have gone sixth to the Ravens (who took the safer Ronnie Stanley instead), he lost at least $8 million in hypothetical dollars last night.

But let’s focus on what’s important here. The drama was gripping, and the ratings were probably through the roof.

Now go out there and give it your best Laremy, knowing the commissioner has your best interests at heart. But make sure you put this officially licensed hat on first, so fans will know which one they’re supposed to buy.

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PFT’s second-round mock draft

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 08:  Linebacker Myles Jack #30 of the UCLA Bruins defends against the Washington Huskies on November 8, 2014 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

A second-round mock draft. Because everybody has one.

The draft resumes Friday at 7 p.m. ET. The Browns currently hold the first pick of the second round, at No. 32 overall, but we project a trade. We project a few trades, actually.

These are just projections, and they’re open to scorn, questions and possibly even praise. Stranger things have happened, right? Here goes…

32. Jaguars* (projected trade): Myles Jack, LB, UCLA

33. Titans: Andrew Billings, NT, Baylor

34. Cowboys: Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson

35. Chargers: Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas

36. Bills* (projected trade): Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State

37. Chiefs: Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson

38. Browns* (projected trade): Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State

39. Buccaneers: Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State

40. Giants: Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana

41: Bears: Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama

42. Dolphins: Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor

43. Titans: Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State

44. Raiders: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama

45. Titans: Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

46. Lions: A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama

47. Saints: Jonathan Bullard, DT, Florida

48. Colts: Kamalei Correa, OLB/DE, Boise State

49. Ravens* (projected trade): Noah Spence, OLB, Eastern Kentucky

50. Falcons: Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State

51. Jets: Le’Raven Clark, OT, Texas Tech

52. Texans: Cody Whitehair, G, Kansas State

53. Redskins: Austin Johnson, DT, Penn State

54: Vikings: Nick Martin, OL, Notre Dame

55: Bengals: Tyler Boyd, WR, Pitt

56. Seahawks: Su’a Cravens, LB, USC

57. Cowboys* (projected trade): Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State

58. Steelers: Darian Thompson, S, Boise State

59. Chiefs: Caleb Benenoch, OL, UCLA

60. Patriots: Joshua Perry, LB, Ohio State

61. Patriots: Kenneth Dixon, RB, Louisiana Tech

62. Panthers: Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama

63. Broncos: Kentrell Brothers, LB, Missouri

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Texans wanted Karl Joseph, badly

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The Texans surely are happy with receiver Will Fuller; they specifically traded up a spot to get him. But the Texans had another guy they really wanted.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Texans badly wanted former West Virginia safety Karl Joseph.

The Texans never got a chance to get him, because the Raiders surprisingly made Joseph the 14th overall selection — despite a torn ACL he suffered last year at practice. Joseph’s stock had been murky until recently, when it became clear that he was destined to be taken in round one.

The PFT simulated draft had Joseph going to the Steelers at No. 25. Unless they were ready to trade up, they never would have had a chance at him.

No one, in the end, had a chance to get him because the Raiders pounced when they had the chance to do so. If Joseph turns out as well as the team’s recent high-round picks have developed, the Raiders could soon be competing not just for a spot in the playoffs but for a spot in the Super Bowl.

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“Unhappy” Nick Saban in green room last night

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The man who once said he wasn’t going to be the Alabama coach perhaps wished for a little while last night that he wasn’t the Alabama coach.

Nick Saban, who attended the draft at the invitation of the league, waited multiple hours as only one of his former players was picked. As one source who was present in the green room told PFT, Saban looked “unhappy” with the situation.

In his defense, Saban pretty much always looks “unhappy,” with his excellence coming in large part from the extent to which so he’s driven to achieve it that he rarely (if ever) enjoys it. (There’s a compliment in there somewhere.)

Excellence wasn’t achieved on Thursday night, with as many as five Alabama players expected to go in round one but ultimately only one making the cut. The one who was picked, center Ryan Kelly, didn’t attend the draft. Three players (linebacker Reggie Ragland, defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson, and defensive lineman Jarran Reed) sat through all 31 picks.

While it means nothing to Alabama’s on-field performance, it’s easier to recruit when the pipeline to the NFL is clear and full. This year, it’s not — and Saban got the privilege of witnessing it last night.

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Browns fielding calls for 32nd pick

the-gang-intimidates-the-switchboard-operator-in-a-scene-from-the-picture-id3170861-2 Getty Images

It’s unknown whether the Browns will use or trade the No. 32 pick in the draft. But it is known that they are at least discussing the possibility.

Per a league source, the Browns are and have been fielding calls regarding a possible trade that would result in yet another trade down — and yet more extra draft picks for a team that is stockpiling building materials for its rebuilding effort.

That’s the benefit of having the first pick in round two. The Browns have all day to explore possible trade offers, and ultimately either to pull the trigger or not pull the trigger on a deal that would knock them down a few spots, or more.

At some point, the Browns have to use their draft picks in order to get players who will help the team win games. For now, though, they may keep amassing more lottery tickets to be scratched off at a later date, or to be swapped for more lottery tickets.

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Jimmy Smith having screws removed from foot

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 15:  Jimmy Smith #22 of the Baltimore Ravens looks on against the Jacksonville Jaguars at M&T Bank Stadium on November 15, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Ravens reportedly wanted to trade up to the fourth pick in the draft on Thursday night so they could draft cornerback Jalen Ramsey, but their attempt was unsuccessful and Ramsey wound up being drafted fifth by the Jaguars.

There’s not much need to explain why Baltimore would be interested in Ramsey, who is the top defensive back in the draft and some feel he’s the best overall player in the class. It likely didn’t hurt Baltimore’s interest that their top current cornerback is having surgery on his foot.

Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith missed eight games in the 2014 season because of a Lisfranc injury that required him to have screws surgically installed in his foot. Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun reports that Smith, who didn’t look all the way back to form in 2015 while starting every game, will be having another procedure to get the screws removed and that he’s hopeful to get back to work in four-to-six weeks.

There was a good chance the Ravens would take a cornerback regardless of Smith’s status for the rest of offseason workouts, but they’ll have to settle for someone further down the list than Ramsey.

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Goodell claims union wants to “eliminate discipline”

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As the NFL continues to bask in the glow of a narrow, 2-1 appeals court victory in the #Deflategate imbroglio, Commissioner Roger Goodell is now defending his handling of quarterback Tom Brady’s suspension by attacking the NFL Players Association.

“I understand when there is a defense of any violation . . . that is part of the game, we all understand that nobody wants to discipline,” Goodell told ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike, via Dan Werly of TheWhiteBronco.com. “I understand the union’s position. The union’s position is to eliminate discipline. That is what they do, we are going to protect the player, right or wrong. And I get that, that is understandable, go at it. My job is to protect the game. We are not going to relent on that, we are not going to compromise at all.”

That’s an incredibly cynical view of the union’s role, and an apparent attempt to counter NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith’s recent explanation on PFT Live about the union’s commitment to fighting for its players. But the union isn’t trying to ensure that players suffer no consequence for wrongdoing. The union wants any consequences to be fair and consistent and within the confines of the labor deal. The union also wants the process that determines those consequences to be fair.

Fairness of the process continues to be the primary problem, since it provides no real protection against the NFL running amok. Although the NFL has (reluctantly) yielded Goodell’s judge-jury-executioner status on matters like on-field discipline, substance abuse, and PEDs to neutral arbitration, Goodell refuses to relent in his position that the league should have full control over the disciplinary decisions and the appeals arising from violations of the Personal Conduct Policy and the rules regarding conduct detrimental to the league.

“I am not going to hand off the integrity of the NFL to somebody who doesn’t understand our business,” Goodell said. “ESPN doesn’t do that. When somebody gets disciplined at ESPN it’s made by ESPN, they don’t hand it off to somebody who doesn’t have an interest in ESPN and the NFL is not going to do that either.”

Without knowing the intricacies of ESPN’s employment structure and relationships, there’s a very good chance that ESPN has a workforce that is partially unionized and a workforce that partially isn’t. As to the union employees, a Collective Bargaining Agreement sets forth the procedures for resolving disputes arising from the imposition of discipline by ESPN. As to non-union employees, the language of any individually-negotiated contract controls. For some employees, there may be an arbitration clause. Others may be able to go to court.

Regardless, it’s likely that ESPN doesn’t reserve the right to serve as the arbitrator in any of its own employment disputes, for union or non-union employees. That’s the difference between the NFL and ESPN, and that’s the ongoing nature of the problem for the NFL. The obsession with controlling the outcome of any dispute keeps the outcome of every dispute from being regarded as fair and just.

As to anyone who would wag a finger at the union for not insisting during the last labor negotiations that Goodell surrender to arbitration his power over the Personal Conduct Policy and conduct detrimental to the game, Goodell’s comments underscore just how hard it would have been to get him to give those rights up. Indeed, and as PFT previously has explained, Goodell and the league flatly refused to agree to neutral arbitration under these policies the last time a new CBA was finalized.

Even if the NFL was willing to inject true fairness into the process by letting someone with no connection to the case resolve it, the league apparently would want plenty of stuff in return from the players. The players at some point would need to ask themselves whether they’re willing to make concessions that would apply broadly to all of them in order to obtain a protection that, as a practical matter, applies to a small handful each year.

The best defense that Goodell ever can muster for not allowing a truly neutral party to resolve any disputes over player discipline imposed by the league arises from the unreasonably stubborn notion that he doesn’t want “somebody who doesn’t understand our business” to make decisions about whether punishments imposed by the league will be upheld. Here’s the reality, however: Thousands of business routinely submit disputes to third parties for a fair and neutral resolution. Likewise, hundreds of judges and arbitrators are smart enough to understand the issues and make reasonable, fair decisions in cases involving industries far more complex and nuanced than grown men playing a kid’s game.

This isn’t about the union wanting to discipline no one. This is about the NFL wanting to be able, when it so chooses, to discipline anyone and everyone, without having to face serious questions or challenges regarding whether the punishment is consistent and fair with past cases, whether the league even has the power to impose the discipline, whether fair and proper procedures were employed to allow the player to prepare and present his defense, and ultimately whether the league was motivated by some unrelated business interest, with the player becoming a pawn in a much broader P.R. or political (internal or external) agenda.

Using third parties to resolves disputes strips away the possibility that, for example, the Commissioner threw the book at the Saints in the bounty case to create the impression that the league cared about player health and safety during the early days of the concussion lawsuits or that the Patriots faced significant sanctions for #Deflategate because the owners who supervise and compensate Goodell were clamoring for a tough punishment due to the perception that the Spygate penalties were too light.

Any adversarial process benefits from the use of an independent party to resolve the dispute. The integrity of the game and public confidence in the sport actually  would be maximized if the league were to fully embrace that reality.

But that would keep the league from doing what it wants, when it wants, how it wants. In the Brady case, the federal courts have (to date) sanctioned that practice. The court of public opinion, however, should continue to reject Goodell’s position and demand true fairness and objectivity for all players, through an arbitration process carefully designed to ensure that properly educated and accomplished individuals will be charged with sorting out the facts and applying the relevant law to the unique (not really) employment and business challenges faced by a business premised on paying folks to run, block, tackle, throw, catch, and kick.

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John Elway: No regrets about how QB search played out

attend the 29th Annual Leigh Steinberg Super Bowl Party on February 6, 2016 in San Francisco, California. Getty Images

After a couple of months of uncertainty about what the Broncos would do at quarterback for the 2016 season, things got a lot clearer on Thursday night.

The Broncos traded up five spots in the first round in order to select Paxton Lynch, bringing an end to an extended search process that started when Brock Osweiler left for Houston and included investigations into trades for Colin Kaepernick and Sam Bradford. Elway told Peter King of TheMMQB.com that he was “surprised” the Kaepernick trade talks didn’t come to fruition, but that he’d choose Lynch over the other possibilities if he’d had his choice of outcomes when the process started.

“Do I have any regrets about this whole thing?” Elway said. “No. We’re thrilled to have ended up where we are, with Paxton. If you had said to me, ‘Here are your four options,’ and you named the four we just went through, this is the one we’d take. We think Paxton, long-term, is a perfect fit for our offense.”

Elway said he’s comfortable with Mark Sanchez opening the season as the starter while Lynch makes the transition to the professional ranks, but said “never say never” when asked if that’s how things will play out when the time comes for the Broncos to start defending their Super Bowl title.

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Seahawks only have one quarterback on roster at moment

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptflmgy2mwuyy2zhymrjmte3mmy5mmuxmtniywu0nji3 AP

It’s a good thing the Seahawks were able to find a pass protector with the 31st pick last night.

Because they only have one quarterback on the roster, so they need to keep him safe.

The Seahawks waived backup Phillip Sims yesterday, clearing the decks and leaving starter Russell Wilson as the only passer on the roster.

Of course, they’ll add some more. Tarvaris Jackson is just sitting there waiting to be signed, and they have an entire draft in front of them. Also, it’s April, so maybe it’s a little soon to panic.

The Seahawks used the final pick of the first round on tackle Germain Ifedi, adding to an offensive line that badly needed reinforcements. Especially if they go with the unconventional one-quarterback roster.

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Jay Gruden sees some of A.J. Green in Josh Doctson

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28:  (L-R) Josh Doctson of TCU  holds up a jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked #22 overall by the Washington Redskins during the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on April 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Before he became the head coach of the Redskins, Jay Gruden was the offensive coordinator of the Bengals.

In that job, Gruden got to deploy A.J. Green at wide receiver and he feels like the team added a similar player to their offense in the first round on Thursday night. The Redskins dropped down one spot, adding a 2017 pick in the process, and then took wide receiver Josh Doctson with the 22nd pick. After the selection, Gruden said Doctson reminded him of his former Cincinnati charge.

“I think [Doctson’s] the most polished receiver of the group, personally,” Gruden said, via the Washington Post. “I think he can do a lot of different things across the middle. When the ball is in the air, he’s got the jumping ability. He’s got great hands. I think he’s got the best hands in the draft also. He’s a great pure route-runner. I graded him out very, very high. Our scouts had him graded out very high. [General Manager] Scot [McCloughan] loved him. We all loved him, obviously, based on his production. The game is not too big for him. He’s just a solid, all-around football player. Great body control, which you can’t coach that. The ball is in the air, he can twist all kind of different ways. It reminds me a lot of A.J. Green a couple years ago in Cincinnati.”

We’ll save Green comparisons until Doctson has some NFL experience under his belt, but he gives the offense a bigger receiver than they had coming into the draft and that should help the offense even if he doesn’t make the same kind of splash in his rookie season. His presence also increases the team’s options at receiver moving forward with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon both entering the final year of their contracts.

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Giants say they didn’t reach for Eli Apple

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28:  Eli Apple of Ohio State reacts after being picked #10 overall by the New York Giants during the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on April 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) Getty Images

In the days leading up to the draft, there was buzz about the Giants having interest in drafting linebacker Leonard Floyd or the best offensive tackle available with the No. 10 pick.

When Thursday night rolled around, they saw the Titans trade up to take tackle Jack Conklin at No. 8 and then watched the Bears leap over them to snag Floyd with the ninth pick. The Giants could have taken tackle Laremy Tunsil or linebacker Myles Jack (whose knee issues were a red flag), but opted to take cornerback Eli Apple.

Some thought that the take-out king of Columbus, Ohio was a reach at that spot, but General Manager Jerry Reese said they followed their board and that Apple was rated higher than “the guys who had some issues” like Tunsil and Jack. Scouting director Marc Ross also defended the way the Giants played things on Thursday night.

“We’ve heard it before,” Ross said, via the New York Post. “We’ve taken other players that [were called] a reach. Nobody knows. If you get a dime for every expert, I could retire. Come on. Experts? People analyze. People have opinions. What’s it based on? Nobody has seen the tape. Nobody goes to practice. Nobody puts in the work like the scouts do. It’s easy to second-guess and pick and say get everybody’s pick right and tell them what they should do, but you’ve just got to put in the work and trust what you do.”

Ross is correct about the Giants hearing a lot of criticism about their recent drafts and co-owner John Mara has been one of the critics. Mara said this draft is more important than usual, which would make the way the Apple selection works out crucial for the futures of both Reese and Ross in the organization.

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Goodell on Vegas: “All of us have evolved a little bit on gambling”

Vegas Getty Images

As if Raiders owner Mark Davis offering $500 million toward a stadium wasn’t enough of a sign people were serious about the possibility of the Raiders actually going to Las Vegas, the league’s continually softening stance on Sin City should be.

Via Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was asked on ESPN Radio whether gambling concerns would be enough to prevent a Raiders move.

All of us have evolved a little bit on gambling,” Goodell said. “To me, where I cross the line is anything that can impact on the integrity of the game. If people think it is something that can influence the outcome of a game, we are absolutely opposed to that.”

The idea that gangsters are going to lean on players to influence outcomes of games is a paranoia of another era. As gambling on sports has become more popular and more available, the stigma of Las Vegas as a destination for the league has receded.

The league’s also perfectly willing to push the game in London, where gambling on sports is not only commonplace, but endorsed on the fronts of jerseys in England’s top soccer league.

So it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that the league seems to be warming to the idea of Las Vegas. If nothing else, the Rams going to Los Angeles required them to come up with another city to use as leverage in existing stadium negotiations.

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Mississippi vows to “aggressively investigate” Tunsil’s admission of getting paid

Laremy-Tunsil-by-Chris-GraythenGetty-Images-Ole-Miss-vs.-Oklahoma-State-January-1-2016-DMC-1234_vgvcjb Getty Images

On a night that the Ole Miss football program should have been celebrating the placement of three of its former players into the first round of the draft, the Rebels are reeling from the admission of left tackle Laremy Tunsil that he was paid while in college.

“I’d have to say yeah,” Tunsil said at his post-selection press conference regarding whether he received money from a coach at Mississippi.

“The university is aware of the reports from the NFL Draft regarding Laremy Tunsil and potential NCAA violations during his time at Ole Miss,” the university said in a statement, via CFT. “Like we do whenever an allegation is brought to our attention or a potential violation is self-discovered, we will aggressively investigate and fully cooperate with the NCAA and the SEC.”

The investigation quickly could get interesting, given that it’s unlikely that only one guy was getting paid, if anyone was getting paid.

It already was known that Tunsil received “impermissible extra benefits” at Mississippi. He missed the first seven games of the 2015 season after the NCAA found that Tunsil had used three vehicles without payment over a six-month period, got an interest-free loan on the down payment for buying a used car, two nights free lodging at a local home, an airline ticket bought by a teammate’s friend, and a free one-day rental vehicle. The notion that Tunsil was paid directly by coaches, however, constitutes new territory for Tunsil and Ole Miss.

The NCAA no longer has jurisdiction over Tunsil, which means he won’t be required to cooperate in any investigation arising from his comments. Based on his surprising candor from last night, maybe he’ll choose to answer questions regarding whether and to what extent he and other players were paid.

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Ravens tried to trade up for Ramsey before passing on Tunsil

Ozzie Newsome AP

The Ravens played it safe when they actually made their pick. But they tried to make a big move to help fix their defense.

Via Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun, Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome admitted they tried to trade up to the fourth pick in the draft to get to Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey, but when Dallas wouldn’t budge, they watched their target go fifth overall to Jacksonville.

Then with Joey Bosa and Ezekiel Elliott off the board, they settled on the top tackle in the draft, or at least the top tackle who didn’t have a gas mask bong hit video hit the Internet 15 minutes before the selection meeting began.

Newsome said they had Ronnie Stanley rated ahead of Laremy Tunsil all along, even before the emergence of the video which caused Tunsil’s draft stock to fall

“The thing that I’m so proud of, . . . our scouts get a lot of information,” Newsome said. “When things happen, a lot of the times we’re not surprised. We took the best player, the player that was rated the highest on the board at that point. I cannot neglect the importance of the work that our scouts do in the fall and in the spring getting information for us.”

The implication that they somehow knew about Tunsil’s video seems disingenuous, and an attempt to cover tracks for a team which has never shied away from harboring wayward boys. From the moment Robert Nkemdiche placed Tunsil in the Atlanta hotel room he flew out the window of (and was subsequently arrested for possession of marijuana in), there should have been reason to suspect a link to marijuana was possible.

And while Stanley might be a talented prospect in his own right, the fact he was “cleaner,” can’t help but have swayed the Ravens, and delivered the Dolphins a guy they thought was the best player in the draft.

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Pederson says Eagles told Bradford they’d draft a QB

Sam Bradford AP

The agent for Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford says he’s angry because they didn’t tell him their plans to draft a franchise quarterback. But Eagles coach Doug Pederson says Bradford was told in advance that part of his job would be grooming a rookie quarterback.

Sal Paolantonio reported today on Mike & Mike that he talked to Pederson, and that Pederson relayed the conversations he had with Bradford. Pederson claims he told Bradford all along that he’d be sharing the quarterback room with a rookie.

“He told me that he told Bradford and Chase Daniel up front that they were going to draft a quarterback, and they were going to try to nurture him for the future, and they expected Bradford and Daniel to be part of that, but that this year Bradford would be the starter,” Paolantonio said. “And they were shocked when they told Bradford that they were going up to No. 2 and they were making the trade and investing five picks, and Bradford’s reaction was one of anger, and he abruptly walked out of the offseason training program.”

Paolantonio also reported that Pederson tried to reach out to Bradford, but Bradford is ignoring texts from Pederson, other Eagles coaches and the front office.

It’s possible that Pederson is telling the truth but something got lost in the discussion: Perhaps Pederson told Bradford that the Eagles would draft a quarterback, but Bradford interpreted that as meaning a late-round quarterback, not a No. 2 overall pick who’s clearly expected to become the franchise quarterback by 2017.

Either way, however, Bradford signed a contract to play for the Eagles this year and accepted an $11 million signing bonus as part of the deal. Whether Bradford likes it or not, he’s teammates with Wentz. It would probably be wise to stop pouting, and start trying to prove himself good enough to keep Wentz on the bench.

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